Benrinnes 19, 1997, 57.5% – Pot Still Edition

I’ve managed to find a whisky that’s been out, but is not very clearly available on Whiskybase. At least, I’ve not been able to find it. Let’s add it in a minute.

Anyway, I managed to get my hands on a sample of this one. I think it’s coming from a swap or some random samples I bought over the years. It’s been a while since I drank it so I’m not 100% sure what sample bottle it came from.

So, a 19 year old Benrinnes, bottled for Potstill in Vienna, apparently, an amazing shop full of whiskies. One for the list of things to ever get around to.

001(57)_medSniff:
Fruity with peardrops, icing sugar and lemon curd. Straw, and after that there’s slightly glue-y hint.

Sip:
Sweet and candy like on the palate too. Quite strong, with a bit of alcohol burn. Simple syrup, a bit of a dusty texture, with hard candies, pear drops, Napoleon.

Swallow:
The finish is the first time I’m getting a bit of oak and barley. The candy flavors are toned down a notch.

As you might know from previous reviews of random Irish whiskeys, I’m not a huge fan of too sweet candy notes and this one has quite a lot of them. Therefore I’m not the biggest of fans, but I can see people liking this.

84/100

It’s still available from the shop in Vienna, for € 119, which isn’t too shocking in this day and age.

Benrinnes 1997, 19 years old, American White Oak Barrel, 57.5%, Potstill Edition

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Springbank 9yo, Local Barley, 57.7%

There are always these whiskies that sit on the shelf waiting for the right moment because they are (supposed to be) something different. Something (supposedly) special. This one was more or less that. More or less because it’s not overly rare or hard to get, even though it was suggested to be selling like hot cakes.

Also, in the end it’s just an overpriced 9 year old whisky made from a different strain of barley that happens to grow near the distillery. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll gladly pay the price for whiskies like this since you’re buying a far more genuine product that some over engineered Macallan from a range of colors.

Anyway, this had been sitting on the shelf, waiting to be reviewed and properly tasted. I had had a few sips before and I already knew I liked it. However, when you sit down for a dram, you get to a whole different level of ‘understanding’ a whisky. In a regular session this was yet another high quality but not overly special Springbank. But, when I sat down I came up with the following notes:

20190216_142414.jpgSniff:
Properly funky like any good Springbank. Moldy attics, or a derelict house that’s not been entered in a decade. Quite prozaic for me, if I’m honest… Menthol, thyme and barley. Peat and cigaret smoke. Not a lot of oak. A bit farmyard-y, actually.

Sip:
It’s quite gentle, for a 9 year old, cask strength whisky. Although it does build up some intensity after a few seconds of ‘swimming’. Some black pepper and brine, some minerals. It’s actually a typical younger Springbank, but there’s added funkiness, added moldiness, added depth.

Swallow:
On the finish, the barley shines through, but it’s dry and old barley. Sawdust, old wallpaper (strangely, in a good way). Not overly long with hints of pepper, corky apple, some minerals and a bit of brine.

While I still find it strange to promote flavors of moldiness and funk in whiskies, it’s so good if that’s your thing. This is, contrary to the Bere barley variety from before, a fairly regular Springbank, but what makes Springbank good is all in overdrive here. And I love it.

And so, Springbank remains my favorite distillery…

90/100

Springbank 9yo, Local Barley, 80% bourbon casks, 20% sherry casks, 57.7%. Quite regularly available still.

 

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Glen Moray Distillery, and their tasting kit

20181022_113344

Last October I was staying in Speyside with my family. And even though my kids are 6, 4 and 1 years old, I found I had the moral and educational obligation to show them a whisky distillery.

The closest one was Benromach, but I visited that plays a couple of years ago, and wanted to see a new one. Especially if I’m going to see just one in a week in Scotland. Glen Moray it was. I contacted Iain Allan (who works there) to get some information on what to pay attention too, both in the distillery and in the shop…

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Relaxed flyers at Glen Moray

Unfortunately Iain was on holiday at that time, but to my surprise he did leave a message to get me into the upgraded tasting. And, as a boon to Glen Moray, the supply sample bottles and a little zipper-bag to take the samples home. A good thing, since I was driving. The misses chickened out at the last minute…

The distillery tour itself was a fun one. Not spectacular, but far from uninteresting either. It was us with the kids and one other couple on holiday. They did their talk and gave us some time to sniff the different casks, which the kids hugely enjoyed. I might have missed quite a bit in doing translating for the wee ones, and trying to keep them in check.

The tasting in the shop was an interesting one, since the expanded one apart from the regular dram consisted only of things available only at the distillery. Let’s do tasting notes!

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Glen Moray 1998 PX Finish, 45.5%
Sniff:
Lots of red fruit on the nose. Thick sherry, stewed pears and strawberries. Port wine, incredibly sweet and much too dessert sauce like.

Sip:
Slightly dry, but very sweet and fruity. Gentle, somehow like semolina pudding. Red berry syrup, very sweet.

Swallow:
The finish is drier, and more woody than before. These flavors push back the sweetness a bit.

Too sweet. It’s surprisingly not-woody, but the PX gave it a strange twist. I’ve encountered this before in some sherry casks of varied distilleries. Absolutely not my cup of tea.

80/100


Glen Moray, 120th Anniversary, 2002-2018, 52.4%
20190219_203121.jpgSniff:
A lot of oak, but not harsh. Slightly winey, without it tasting like a finish in such casks. Dry oak shavings, hessian, rancio.

Sip:
Dry and a bit of a bite. Dry apple, old oak, dessert wine / moscatel. Lots of oak keep at it, with some berries in the mix. Pear skins.

Swallow:
The finish has a weird sweetness that is a large part blackberries, simple syrup and shoe polish. Some oak, but mostly fruity, with a hint of that moscatel.

I picked up a bottle of this when I was there, so that kind of gives away what I think of this whisky. It’s surprisingly complex for a virgin oak cask. Generally I think these are too woody, but in this case there’s a lot going on that’s interesting.

88/100


Glen Moray, Bottle your own
Sniff:
Quite apply. Even a bit mineral like after a few seconds. A bit of the typical yellow fruity sweetness from Glen Moray.

Sip:
Quite a bit sharper than expected. Dry, oaky, crisp like an apple.

Swallow:
Here it’s a bit more like stewed apple. Apple, pear, a bit of a metallic sharpness.

Well, if memory serves this was a younger cider cask. The bottles were all sold out when I was at the distillery. Cider casks are rare and the only other one I know was an atrocious Tullamore Dew. This one is better, but it’s just not in my wheelhouse.

Strange, since I like apple-y whiskies, and ones with a hint of mineral. It’s just a little bit too weird.

78/100


Glen Moray 2010-2018, Peated PX Finish, 55.8%
IMG_5918.JPGSniff:
Heavy, leathertly and smoky. Thick smoke, with a fruity backdrop. Dried fruit, dates, prunes. Furniture polish.

Sip:
Slightly sharp, leathery, dry and oaky. Prunes and dates, leather wax. Quite some woody smoke, and some oaky and sherry sweetness.

Swallow:
The finish is gentle and has some baking spices and trifle. Smoke, leather, some green notes behind it all.

Well, as soon as I smelled this, I knew Anneke would love this, and I loved it too. I didn’t really expect this, somehow. I generally dislike the ‘let’s get on the peated whisky bandwagon’ drams. This one is very well executed though, and the PX is spot on with enough room for the wood and spices to shine, and without too much sweetness.

A bottle was bought.

88/100

Summarizing, I kind of like Glen Moray. I do like that they experiment with casks without going all 2010-Bruichladdich on the world. I fell in love with the whisky when I was able to try a flight of 35-ish year olds from the SMWS, and have tried quite a few other ones since. Nice and fruity, not too complicated but strong enough to withstand a bit of oak.

Thanks Iain, and the team at Glen Moray!

 

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Tamdhu 2007-2017, 10yo, 55.4% – Creative Whisky Company for Drinks & Gifts

This cask was bottled for my local bottle-shop last year. I had to check, but it was bottled for the 10th anniversary of the shop. Since their inception they’ve gone from a tiny cornershop to a much larger and more important shop. I honestly go there for beer, mostly. The occassions on which I randomly buy whisky are very limited.

What I don’t actually know is why the Creative Whisky Company got sold to an unknown (to me) party last year. I heard about it at Maltstock and people were guessing there too. Quite a shame since I liked the bottler, both the company and David Stirk.

Anyway, a 10 year old Tamdhu from a hogshead. It’s not too old, and I seem to remember this being a refill sherry hogshead, which would also fit the tasting notes. However, I can’t find the info on it.

20190210_224345.jpgSniff:
Slightly grainy, slight dry and spicy. Fruit stones, a little bitter with cherry stones and almonds. There’s a bit of youth left to it.

Sip:
Very dry, and rather bitter. Stone fruits, apricot and cherry stones. Almonds, prunes and dates. Gets a bit sharper after a while.

Swallow:
There’s a bit of dryness left, and sharpness. Fruit, with the same bitterness as before.

I think this tastes a bit younger than the age statement made me expect, especially for the engineered whiskies of today. Also, while there are some nice flavors in it, I’m not overjoyed by the whisky. It does have some fruity sweetness and bitterness, which generally works well together. However, there’s also that slightly rough edge of it having been in a bit of a lazy cask that just doesn’t do it for me.

Luckily it’s quite affordable and the combination of the price and it’s quality match well.

82/100

Tamdhu 2007-2017, 10yo, Hogshead 6829, 55.4%, Creative Whisky Company for the 10th Anniversary of Drinks & Gifts. Available for € 50

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Glen Grant 25, 1993-2018, 50.8% – Cadenhead’s Club

With most clubs associated with distilleries or bottlers you wonder what it’s for. In a lot of cases it is barely more than a  quarterly newsletter and some ‘exclusive’ section of their website that barely offers any added value.

Of course, in a lot of cases there’s a bottling every one or two years with a varying amount of interest. I remember Speyburn doing an amazing one a few years ago that was also included in a Twitter Tasting. It was affordable. On the other hand there’s the White Stag releases from Arran Distillery that are ridiculously expensive, in general.

There’s the other kind of benefit of which you don’t know you have them until you visit the distillery. This was the case with the Warehouse 24 thing from Balvenie, which netted us an amazing dram during the tasting after the tour in 2015.

Then there’s the Springbank Society and Cadenhead’s Club (they sure love their alliterations). I became a member of the Springbank Society some 11 years ago and last year the Cadenhead’s Club followed suit. Shortly after they did their first Club exclusive bottling of this 25 year old Glen Grant, finished in a Sherry Hogshead for 3 years. At 75 quid.

Of course, modern Glen Grant isn’t 70s Glen Grant, but I wasn’t going to let such an opportunity pass me by. Here’s my tasting notes:

20190215_094435.jpgSniff:
Sweet tropical fruits. Orange, peach, some banana too. Some oak, autumn leaves and dark, crusty bread. Quite complex with some black pepper behind the sweetness.

Sip:
Dry, spicy with pepper at first. Far less sweet, but still fruity. Some bitter hints with peach stones. Peach, orange. The spices are a bit autumnal.

Swallow:
Here the sweetness comes back, but not to the same level as the nose. A very well balanced finish with slightly peppery spices, sweet tropical fruits and oak.

This is a very good whisky. The sherry is very present for the relatively short time the whisky spent in a sherry cask. It’s not similar to 70s Glen Grant because that’s just in another league, but for a modern one this is cracking. I love the balance between the wood spices, the bitterness and the fruit.

89/100

Of coure, it’s still available in the secondary market for 300 pound, so only a 300% increase in less than a year.

Glen Grant 25, 1993-2018, 50.8%, Cadenhead’s Club

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The wonderful world of whisky

Four years ago I wrote about having less of a collection and becoming more of a drinker than a collector. Although I did sell some bottles in the wake of that post, not much changed. The amount of bottles stayed largely the same, which was an improvement over an ever increasing stash, but it didn’t really shrink.

I’ve been easy to enthuse for a lot of things all my life. Always the geeky stuff, whether it be fantasy books, Magic: the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, CDs, video games, comic books, beer or whisky, when I get into something I get into it bigtime. In a way, the same happened with kids. When I started that, I had to go and get three…

This has a drawback, of course. These things cost money and generally when your enthusiasm wanes, there’s not much to show for it or sell on (I’m no longer talking about my kids, by the way). The exception to the rule is whisky and Magic cards. These things are worth quite a bit, after some years. The drawback of whisky, the main topic of this blog, is that I try to drink it. A day after drinking it, it might look the same, but it supposedly tastes quite different.

Over the last two years I’ve taken a step back from the world of whisky, in a way. I’ve not gotten out of it, but I don’t follow the newest releases all that much, and I don’t need to keep having better and more exclusive whiskies. I’ve come to the conclusion that the whiskies I’m tasting are good enough, great even, without them being more and more expensive, old and rare.

While that makes me miss all kinds of releases that I would otherwise have thought to be must-haves, it does make a lot of things easier. Not necessarily cheaper, since without the new releases, there’s still enough awesome stuff available. Of course, some whiskies are insanely hard to miss or say no to. Like these upcoming Game of Thrones single malts. Apparently they aren’t very good, but I’m going to try some of them anyway. Also, I already ordered them before hearing feedback on them.

What this slight distance to the cutting edge of the whisky world does is that it brings a bit of peace and quiet. There’s no unnecessary F5-ing of websites to get the latest Springbank Local Barley (although I did get that, but it was more of a timely Facebook check and someone else posting a link). There’s no scanning of RSS feeds for interesting new releases. There’s no 50 newsletters in my mailbox every week with stuff I supposedly cannot live without. And yet, there’s enough awesome stuff to drink.

This distance makes me more of a whisky drinker than a whisky blogger (even though I still blog, obviously). It also makes it far more easy to enjoy the world of whisky, since I’m not trying to be in the thick of it. If I now get an email with ridiculous claims of grandeur, I unsubscribe. If I see a brand bragging their hooch to such levels it starts to be annoying, I unfollow them.

The Dutch have a saying “Doe maar normaal, da’s gek genoeg”, which means “Act normal, that’s crazy enough”, and I find that to be more and more accurate (and yes, we’re still a rather Calvinist lot). We’re generally talking about spending some € 80+ on a bottle of booze, so if that’s the normal, that’s crazy enough. I don’t want to have all the shouting and bragging too.

Honestly, the less a brand markets their stuff, the more they come across as having faith in their product without all the nonsense. This might be less true for the entry level whiskies that have a different target audience than me/us, though.

 

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Glenrothes 1997-2017, 19yo, 58.5% – The Single Cask

This bottler suddenly showed up on my radar when I was randomly browsing Master of Malt. Like I needed to find something to spend money on… Anyway, I tried doing a bottle-share with it, but that didn’t get any traction. However, I decided I definitely wanted this Glenrothes, so I ordered it anyway.

I did sell a sample or two, if I remember correctly, but I was lucky enough to keep most of it to myself. A proplery sherried Glenrothes, not bottled by themselves is mostly a good thing. Somehow their independent casks are soooo much better than what they keep for themselves, I really doubt their selection process.

The guys from The Single Cask were at Maltstock as well, last year, and I remember talking to them. I also remember than  I was kind of wasted so I don’t have a clue what we yapped about.

Tasting notes then, right before I empty it over the coming weekend.

glenrothes-19-year-old-1997-cask-l1097-the-single-cask-whiskySniff:
Very Oloroso-y. A funky combination of fruit and spices. Pecans, dates, caramelized sugar. Quite some oak, dirt, nuts, fruit. Slightly yeasty, somehow.

Sip:
Sweet and rich. Pecan pie, marsipan, the inside of mars bars. Nuts, dried fruits. Some chili heat and oak. Intense, slightly feinty. Very old fashioned.

Swallow:
The finish is quite similar to the palate. A long one too, very rich with pecan pie, mars bars, milk chocolate.

This is a cracking whisky. Even thought it’s 58.5% it’s not overly sharp. There’s a lot of richness that competes with the boatload of alcohol. The combination of all kinds of candybars strangely makes sense. The addition of lots of nutty flavors and some dried fruit makes this more or less the quintessential sherried Speyside whisky.

It’s a shame it was only 85 casks, so it’s all gone. It wasn’t cheap though, at € 130

90/100

Glenrothes 1997-2017, 19yo, L1097, 58.5%, The Single Cask

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